Books I’ve Devoured Lately

I haven’t read as much lately as I have the last few months, but I thought I’d share a few books I’ve LOVED lately.

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Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut: Essays and Observations from an Odd Mom Out by Jill Kargman

Letters For Scarlet by Julie C Gardner

Guest List: A Novella by Julie C Gardner

The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick

Bittersweet Creek by Sally Kilpatrick

The Girl In The Well Is Me by Karen Rivers

 

Thirteen. 13. A Teen.

Thirteen. 13. A Teen.

Thirteen.

It feels as awkward rolling off my tongue as it actually is to be thirteen.

It’s hard to fathom, really, the possibility of Charlie being here and being thirteen. Waking up with scruffy hair on his head and a hint of facial hair. He would surely talk back to me with a cracking voice and when he might smile, the little boy in him would likely peek through every so often. He would have an attitude like he’s either king of the world or the most sullen teen who ever lived.

Lived. If only he’d lived.

CharlieBlue

Damn, there are so many things I would have — WE would have — done. All of us. Together.

If only…

If only the good didn’t die young. If only God didn’t take the best angels first. If only bad things didn’t happen to good people. If only we had prayed more, gotten him to the hospital sooner, been more vigilant, hoped more. If only we had waited one more day to let him go so we could have one more day of touching him. If only we had gotten a miracle. If only I knew why… If only. If only. IF ONLY.

Here we are, though, at another birthday. Another “trip around the sun” that will never actually happen. But he IS the sun. He IS the clouds. He IS the moon and the stars and the air that fills my lungs. He is everywhere.

Forever, he may not be here, but he’s everywhere.

Thank you, Charlie, for making me a Mom. For showing me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. And please keep showing me daily that you’re always with me.

Happy 13th birthday, baby boy. 

I Love Me

 

Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Aaah… it’s Listen To Your Mother time!

We’re officially 5 days out from our third Listen To Your Mother Show here in Atlanta. This is it. All the work, sweat, tears, anxiety dreams… it all culminates on Saturday night at Marietta’s New Theatre In The Square.

Thirteen amazing cast members will be sharing their stories of motherhood. We held our final rehearsal yesterday and let me tell you something right now. You do NOT want to miss these stories. These women share hope, heartache, lessons, fears, and yes, even things you just don’t talk about in normal conversation.

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Miranda and I are so thrilled to have Zoë Barracano as our Media Sponsor and photographer. Once again, Lee at Firefly Loft has helped with our design work. And Layla Kelling, Arbonne Independent Consultant is a wonderful Friend of LTYM. We can’t put on our show without the help of our local sponsors. So thank you to these women… give them some love!

One of the most rewarding parts of Listen To Your Mother is the charitable segment. Did you know that each LTYM city chooses a local cause to support through ticket sales? Yes, they do. Ten percent of ticket sales goes directly into a local cause — typically one that helps mothers and children — and our casts fall in love with them.

This year, Miranda and I chose The Drake House, a wonderful organization that is helping women and their children get back on their feet after finding themselves homeless. It’s a growing problem in North Atlanta, which given the image North Atlanta has as being an affluent area, is shocking to most. You can read all about The Drake House on the LTYM: ATL site.

The only thing we are missing that will make this LTYM season complete is YOU.

We need YOU int he audience. Tickets are on sale and going fast. They will sell out, likely before Thursday or Friday. Please get yours now and come support this amazing cast of women!

Your life will be better for having heard their stories. That I can promise.

 Buy Them Here!

The First Thing I Ever Was…

The First Thing I Ever Was…

The first thing I ever was, was a groupie.

Yes, I was born with groupie blood running through my veins. Seriously. It’s a thing.

The Beginning.

My Dad has been in a rock ‘n roll band since I was born. Well, since 1964… way before I was born actually.

For his 17th birthday, he was gifted a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. It was shiny and pristine and brand spanking new. He basically taught himself to play and well, the rest is history.

He started playing lead guitar with The Velvetones and then moved to The Malibu’s (punctuation error on purpose) and later, The Sixpence. This group of guys played together through the end of high school and through college, burning up the roads between Auburn and Athens and Statesboro every weekend.

The Malibu's Fort Valley GA

(L to R), Chris Smisson, Dennis Herbert, Wes Wheeler, David Luckie, Eddie Byrd

The Most Appropriate Nickname.

My Dad is, and always will be, known as “Rock.”

It’s a nickname with two meanings: He plays rock ‘n roll, and he sells diamonds (rocks).

Forever he’s been called this. I’m not sure where it started, but I’m sure there’s a story. Everybody I know refers to him as “Rock” Herbert.

Even now, his grandkids call him Rock. Hell, I even call him Rock.

The Biggest Regret.

You know, they always say you’ll be on your death bed and still have one major regret in life. Any time that’s brought up, my Dad always has the same answer. Turning down the recording contract.

In 1968, around the time The Beatles (formed in 1960)and The Rolling Stones (formed in 1962) and The Who (formed in 1964) were really ramping up in the mainstream music arena, my Dad and his group were offered a recording contract. It came at the end of college for the guys and when big decisions were being made.

Graduation, grad school, jobs, Vietnam, families… all these things played a part in the group turning down a chance to break out and “make it big!”

Sixpence

(top L to R) David Luckie, Eddie Byrd, Dennis Herbert, Mike Jaccino (bottom L to R) Grady Trussell, Wes Wheeler

Every time my Dad sees Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney on stage now, I think he gets a twinge of jealousy. About what could’ve been…

I know if it comes to his last days, and I ask, his answer to “what’s your biggest regret in life” will be turning down a recording contract.

But then again… how would that one decision have changed the trajectory of things? Would I be here? Would Henry be here? Would I be writing this? How would it all have been different?

So regret? Maybe. But would he change it? Probably not.

“My dad’s got a band job that night.”

I never knew life without music in my house or without sometimes having to utter the phrase, “my Dad’s got a band job that night.” It always sounded so ridiculous and normal and by the time I was a teenager, it sounded a little embarrassing, if I’m honest. Friday and Saturday nights, nearly every weekend, my dad was playing somewhere. Usually a wedding or a reunion or a corporate party. During the holidays, sometimes there were 4 or 5 jobs a week — on TOP of the 18 hours a day it took to run our jewelry store during the Christmas season.

During the week, when my sister and I were little, some version of my Dad’s band (add a member, take a member away, rinse, repeat) would practice in our living room. This was around the band called ‘Nightlife’ era. I remember it so vividly. Our house was so tiny, and our living room was literally half of the house. Right smack in the center of the floor was a power outlet. This feature was, honest to god, one of the main reasons my parents bought this house. Usually, a sofa sat on top of it, but on band practice nights, the sofa was scooched away so drums, amplifiers, music stands, and microphones could be set up.

My sister and I would climb around on the drum set like it was a jungle gym. We would hijack the microphones and tambourines and sit in right smack dab in front of the speakers. It was literally a party in our living room. A playground for groupie kids.

Bedtime would come around and they’d still be practicing. We’d be hurried about 15 feet down the hall to our bedrooms where we’d be tucked in and lulled to sleep by David and Donna and Eddie belting out hits like “I Love Rock N Roll” and “Pretty Woman” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Every now and then, there was a gig we were allowed to sneak into. Usually it was one at the Country Club, not a wedding or anything, just a party for the members. Looking back, I realize they must’ve had a blast at these costume parties and New Year’s parties.

My sister and I would spend the night with my Dad’s parents and they would gather us up and take us out to see the band, seemingly before things got too rowdy. I remember specifically going to a few New Year’s Eve parties in my nightgown and coat, with my grandparents still in their wool dress suits, to see them play.

My sister and I would watch and dance and give good night kisses and be quickly scooted back to their house for bed.

Over the years, the band members changed. The types of gigs and music they played changed. They incorporated things like the Macarena and those silly line-dance songs into their set lists. More weddings were played which meant fewer parties for us to crash.

How to be Father-of-the-Bride AND Rock the Lead Guitar.

I think it goes without saying that, growing up as a groupie of your Dad’s band, I wanted them to play at my wedding. So when it was time for me to get married, the first thing I did was book the band. Easiest decision ever.

The logistics were simple: He walked me down the aisle. He danced the father/daugher dance with me. Jason’s friend Greg sat in for him during the first songs. Then he excused himself from the wedding nonsense and went back to his happy place — on the stage with his ’64 Fender Stratocaster in his arms. My mom did what she always did. She danced with everybody on the dance floor and never stopped moving.

When my sister got married, she threw down the gauntlet. She issued a challenge to our Dad that had talked about for years, but never tackled.

“If you’re going to play my wedding reception, you’re going to learn Free Bird.”

And so he did. He got a guy to come over and teach him how to play Free Bird over the course of several months. The first time any of us heard it was at my sister’s wedding. Apparently I missed it while sitting in the air conditioning, looking like a 9 month pregnant version of Barney, and I was so so disappointed.

So I did what any good daughter would do… I asked them to play it again! I remember the look on my dad’s face was like, “What in the heck are you thinking?”

Free Bird

Free Bird

Looking back, I’m not sure how playing it a second time didn’t kill him because that solo y’all? It’s serious business. But he rocked the hell out of it and the place went wild!

Reunited and It Feels So Good

In February of 2001, my sister and I put together a surprise reunion of all the people our Dad had played with over the last (at the time) 35ish years. Daddy had kicked thyroid cancer’s butt and during that time we realized ALL the guys and gals who had played with them over the years, were still alive. What better time to get them all together.

We gathered every old band member we could find, sold nearly 400 tickets without my Dad knowing a thing about it, and on the morning of the party, a column ran in the local paper about him. Ed Grisamore, in the way only Ed Grisamore can do, honored him with his words and then broke the surprise that THAT NIGHT, there would be a gathering of his former bandmates, closest friends, and it would be a huge party!

Shortly after that reunion, one of the original members of the band was killed in a plane crash. Not long after, another died. The timing of the reunion? Was perfect.

2001Reunion

Band Reunion, February 2001

Fifty Years of Music.

On February 27, 2016, the original Malibu’s and Sixpence (one member no longer with us), gathered to play a sold-out crowd of 700++ in Perry, GA. This marked 50(ish) years since the band had gotten going and even though I wasn’t there in the beginning (duh) I can’t imagine they played much better in the 60’s than they did that Saturday night.

For months, the guys had been getting together to practice. They decided to only play songs that they played back in the day.

The amazing part about this party is that some of these people hadn’t heard them play since high school. My sister and I were blessed with the ability to hear them play, just about whenever we wanted to.

They were born as a garage band, practicing in their parents’ garages growing up. Their friends would come for lemonade and to watch them practice. They could hear them play at the Teen Club or the American Legion. But once they all parted ways, unless they happened to be at a wedding or reunion or party where they played, their friends could only pull up their memories of what The Malibu’s and The Sixpence sounded like.

Until this reunion.

I’m not kidding when I tell you it took 27 seconds for the dance floor to fill. For 3 hours, there was not a single minute where you could walk through the dance floor because it was so incredibly packed. People had the best time.

As far as us, well, it was amazing. Our kids, my cousins’ kids… most had never seen him play. They were awestruck and had the most fantastic time!

This was a certainly a night where all were welcome and all were entertained!

[]

 

reunion2016 collage

Fulfilling my status as daughter/groupie, once I mingled and had a drink or two, I found my spot at the front of the crowd, next to Grady’s daughter, and danced my behind off with my crazy friend Amy. And in true groupie fashion, during the encore, Gretchen and I took a chance by running on stage to dance with our Daddies to “Be Young, Be Foolish.”

Because really, y’all? If you can’t do that?

What’s the point of having groupie blood flowing through you?

4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

The weekend of February 18-21 was the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. For the fourth year, I’ve been part of the weekend with Team RMHC — a charity team benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia in Macon. I’ve typically gone down with girl friends who are also running the race, but this year, I took Neil.

That made things a little different, but way fun! Since there were multiple angles to look at on this trip, I’m going to present it in a 4×4 form. Four things, about four things, about Disney. Follow me?

Teamwork

  1. Part of what I love about Princess Half weekend is running (ha) it with Team RMHC. For those who don’t know, The Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia is an official runDisney charity and gathers a team from across the country to run with them. This year, we were honored to have 120+ team members and raised $100k+.
  2. This was my 4th year running with Team RMHC. I say running like I actually ran this year. No. I walked the 10k this time, though I did “run” across the finish line, simply for the photo! Over those 4 years, I (we — all of you mostly) have raised nearly $11,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Macon. That’s unbelievable! Thank you!
  3. One of the most fun parts of running with Team RMHC is getting to finally meet all of the runners. I do the communications for the team and get to know the runners via Facebook and email, but it isn’t until we actually meet that we go “AAAHHH!!!” and get excited about putting a name with a face!
  4. I loved being able to introduce Neil to the Ronald McDonald House work I do. I don’t think he truly understood what I meant when I said “I have to work while I’m there” until we got there and greeted people in the Hospitality Suite. Then he got it. And then we did a lot of acting goofy in the hospitality suite! Like this:

Racing

  1. I LOVE racing at Disney. Mostly because it’s not really a race. It’s an event! An event with people (mostly women in this race) of all ages, all races, all sizes, and all skill levels. There are some slow runners/walkers and some are speed demons, but it somehow feels like an even playing field.
  2. Running at Disney is exhausting. There are 3am wake up calls and 5:30am start times and lots of walking and lots of talking and it’s so so exhausting. I wonder if “exhilarating” is a by-product of “exhausting” because at Disney, it sure feels like it.
  3. The Cast Members of the Disney Parks come out in droves to cheer the runners on. This is one of the most fun parts to me, other than seeing the costumes (I don’t ever dress up really). They’re out bright and early, well before the parks open, spreading Disney Magic around with clappers, big Mickey hands, high fives, and great signs!
  4. A Disney finish is a strong finish. Always. No matter how little you’ve trained or how sick from heat stroke you are. You ALWAYS feel filled with Pixie Dust when you’re done. Like this:

Romance

  1. Going to Disney World as an adult, with no children, is something every person needs to do. I’d go so far as to say, if you’re dating someone who hasn’t been to WDW since before Epcot was built, you should definitely do that! Because, hello! That’s so fun!
  2. Selfies around the World in Epcot? Perfect. Somebody (no names mentioned) said he hated it, but secretly loved it. I mean, it’s kinda cool when somebody takes you on a weekend trip around the world, right? Epcot Collage
  3. Magic Kingdom was the same as always: Magical. It was neat doing all the cheesy things there are to do there. You know, like riding the Peoplemover, sitting through the Carousel of Progress, going to the Enchanted Tiki Room, and seeing the compelling and moving Country Bear Jamboree. Really, those cheesy attractions are simply hand-holding avenues at Magic Kingdom. Kinda like the Haunted Mansion is.
  4. You know what’s super sweet and romantic? When your (Ok, fine, I’ll say it out loud) boyfriend who hates to get up early, wakes up and takes a bus to an insane race area and waits for several hours at the finish line of the 10k you’re running. Gold star for Neil, I say. Because it was so so fun to cross the finish line and see him while I was getting my medal! Here’s his capture of me: Finish

Inspiration

I always leave Disney feeling energized and inspired. Exhausted, but also feeling like I’m full of life and excitement! This time I left inspired to do the following:

  1. I want to run again. Not half marathons, but I’d love to be able to bring Henry and have us run the 10k together next year.
  2. I want to feel like I can write again. There’s so much in my head itching to get out, and yet it’s stuck in some other space between my brain and my fingers.
  3. I want to make a difference somewhere. I know I make a difference with Ronald McDonald House and GBS Awareness. But there has to be something else… something new and more that needs what I have to offer.
  4. I need to continue on doing what I’m doing. Living a low-key, barely scheduled, easy-going life. I want to love big and live simply. I want to continue to be me.

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